Grabbing an opportunity |

Grabbing an opportunity

Steamboat gymnastics coach fills void with new gymnasium

A young gymnast's hands grip the high bar during a practice routine in the gym at Excel Gymnastics of Steamboat on Wednesday.
Brian Ray

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— A Steamboat Springs math teacher and gymnastics coach has opened a new gymnasium to fill a void left when the Steamboat Gymnastics Center closed its doors in early March.

Mike Smith, who used to coach at Steamboat Gymnastics, opened Excel Gymnastics of Steamboat with his wife Kathy Gibbs on March 19.

Smith said he had attempted to buy Steamboat Gymnastics from the owner, Dan Atkins, who closed the gym because he could not pay the rent.

“That didn’t work out, so we went out on our own to start a gym and that’s how it started,” Smith said.

After being open three weeks, Smith said they have about 120 kids taking classes or training on the local boys and girls gymnastics teams. There are 12 girls and seven boys that train on the local USA Gymnastics teams.

“There is still room for growth,” Smith said.

His children, Cole Gibbs, 9, and Julia Gibbs, 7, are on the team.

The gym is located in 4,700 square feet of space at 2851 Riverside Plaza. It is at the end of a building so windows lining two walls create a bright open space. All the equipment, which includes gymnastics equipment just for kids, is new.

While the previous Steamboat gym closed because of financial difficulties, Smith plans to do some things differently because he thinks there is a demand for a gymnastics facility in Steamboat.

“Somebody would have come along and seen this as an opportunity that needs to be taken advantage of,” Smith said.

Although he plans to continue coaching, Smith thinks running a successful and financially viable gym will require him to focus on running and promoting the business. He has help from a staff of coaches, including Cyndy Mansur, who has been coaching gymnastics for 29 years. She coaches the girls team with Becky Scruggs.

He is developing two- to five-day summer camps for parents looking for something for their kids to do during their summer vacations. Local daycares use the gym and the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department has booked the facility for Spring Break.

While an adult class is offered from 8 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Smith said there will be big emphasis on getting kids involved in the sport.

“We want to introduce gymnastics to the kids and see where they go with it,” Smith said. “The training is beneficial for any other sport they decide to go into.”

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